DEFINITION: To disagree is to have a difference of opinions. A disagreement is a failure to agree about something. Unresolved disagreements can lead to arguments, misunderstanding, and disputes. If resolved biblically, they do not need to do so.
FACTS ABOUT DISAGREEMENTS:
People can disagree without having conflict, but conflict often results from unresolved disagreements. It is not differences of opinion that hurt and destroy, but the failure to resolve them and to love others despite our differences.
When people are fighting each other, they are not fighting the works of Satan or battling for the souls of lost men and women. God wants you to deal with disagreements effectively so the work of His Kingdom can proceed.
The reasons for conflicts are detailed in James 3:14-16: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Again, in James 4:1-3, James declares: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” The Apostle Paul wrote: “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?”
(1 Corinthians 3:3). Remember also that one who is being led by the Spirit will usually come into conflict with others who are being led (at least for a time) by the flesh.
A good leader does not ignore disagreements. He does not call people “unspiritual” for bringing problems to his attention. He immediately deals with disagreements according to scriptural principles.
Personal disagreements between believers should not be ignored, but should be resolved according to biblical guidelines. Do not allow differences of opinion to separate you from other believers or fester in your mind to create anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
DEALING WITH DISAGREEMENTS:
Prevent conflicts. The best way to handle conflict is to prevent it before it occurs. Here are some ways to prevent conflict:
-Become spiritually mature (James 3:14-16; 4:1; 1 Corinthians 3:3).
-Keep others well-informed. Confusion and lack of information often creates problems. Build strong bridges of communication between those involved with you in the work of the ministry. Good leaders in the Bible (like Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, etc.) were good communicators. Communicating with your family is also important.
-We live in an imperfect world. Expect problems and deal with them immediately when they arise.
-Plan ahead. By careful planning you can deal with many issues before they become conflicts. If everyone knows what you are doing and why, there is less opportunity for misunderstanding and conflict.
-Build strong relationships. It is easier to resolve disagreements when you have a good relationship with others with whom you are interacting.
-If you make a mistake, do not ignore it. Be big enough to admit and correct it.
Dealing with conflict. When a disagreement arises, follow these guidelines:
-Pray for wisdom to deal with it.
-Determine the real problem. The conflict is not the real problem. What caused the conflict is the problem. To determine the problem you must ask questions, observe, and continue to pray for revelation. Listen to all sides of the problem and to all people involved. Do not act without a clear understanding of all the facts. Always keep in mind the real source of problems (James 3:14-16; 4:1; 1 Corinthians 3:3).
-Let people who are directly affected by the problem suggest solutions. Be willing to listen to all suggestions.
-Pray together about a solution. In serious conflicts, fasting is also recommended.
-If the conflict is a personal problem between two people–you and another person–resolve it according to the principles of Matthew 18:15-17.
-Deal with conflicts with a proper attitude. Be forgiving, seeking to restore rather than sever relationships. Be loving. Do not threaten or become angry.
-Use tact. Tact is the ability to deal with difficult situations with wisdom and love without offending people. It involves being sensitive to others, being understanding, and using words that restore and heal rather than divide and wound. Be flexible. Do not be selfishly set on having your own way. Be open to different ideas and ways of solving problems.
-Deal with one conflict or problem at a time. Do not confuse the issue by discussing other related problems.
-When you have a clear understanding of the problem causing the conflict, act immediately to correct it.
-Explain to others involved the reason you are handling the conflict the way you are. For example, in the conflict described in Acts 15, the leaders explained their decision in detail in writing to those involved (Acts 15).
Use God’s Word to resolve issues. God’s Word is vital in solving discipline problems and conflicts because: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God’s Word is effective for discipline, reproof, and correction.
WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT DISAGREEMENTS:
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133)
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9)
Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body. (Proverbs 26:20-22)
For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife. (Proverbs 30:33)
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (Amos 3:3)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17)
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19)
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10)
You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:3).
If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another–and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.(Ephesians 4:3-6)
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16)
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:13-14)
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:23-24)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:9-11)
>My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.(James 1:19-20)
But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:14-18)
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3)
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:8-11)
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)
Biblical examples of resolving disagreements.
Abraham. Abraham resolved disagreements between his servants and those of Lot by suggesting they separate and giving Lot the choice of lands (Genesis 13:5-13).
Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas disagreed over taking a young man named John Mark with them on a missions trip. The problem was solved by forming a second evangelistic team. This solution actually advanced the spread of the Gospel. Paul and Barnabas did not get angry, stop speaking, and have nothing more to do with one another. Neither one dropped out of Christian service because “someone had hurt them.” They both continued on to serve the Lord. Sometime later, Paul admitted that John Mark–having been trained by Barnabas–was ready for ministry and asked that John Mark be sent to him (Acts 15:36-41).
The early church. Any time a church, an organization, or work of God is launched, it goes through certain stages of development. Read the following chapters in your Bible:
Acts l God chose certain men.
Acts 2 He gave these men a ministry.
Acts 3 There was great multiplication.
Acts 4 A great movement was born (the Church).
Acts 5-6 Persecution and conflict arose.
In Acts l-4 a great work of God is birthed, then in Acts 5:1-11, a problem arises. Peter does not ignore it, but confronts and deals with it. In Acts 5:12-42, conflict from without the Church arises. The disciples stand in the face of opposition and boldly declare that they should obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29 and 42). In Acts 6:1, conflict from within the church arises. There is a dispute over the distribution of supplies to widows. Again, the disciples immediately solve the conflict (Acts 6:2-7.) Anytime a ministry or work of God is launched, it will experience a similar pattern. As it grows, there will be disagreements and conflicts from without and within the fellowship that must be resolved biblically.